Category Archive: Times of Israel

Soccer fans beat Jew, sing about SS on Dutch liberation day from Nazis

Man in the Hague assaulted after he objected to group of 50 chanting about gassing Jews; police reportedly stood idly by

Illustrative: Feyenoord's fans light up flares during a Champions League Group F soccer match between Feyenoord and Napoli at the Kuip stadium in Rotterdam, Netherlands, on December 6, 2017. (AP Photo/Peter Dejong)

Illustrative: Feyenoord’s fans light up flares during a Champions League Group F soccer match between Feyenoord and Napoli at the Kuip stadium in Rotterdam, Netherlands, on December 6, 2017. (AP Photo/Peter Dejong)

AMSTERDAM (JTA) – A Jewish man was assaulted on the Netherlands’ national holiday of liberation from the Nazis by revelers who sang about gassing Jews.

The man, identified in the Dutch media only as Joram, 35, complained to police that he was pushed around and verbally assaulted with anti-Semitic hate speech by a group of about 50 men in the Hague on May 5, a national holiday known as Liberation Day.

The chanters then began pushing Joram around as police stood idly by, he told the AD news site and the Center for Information and Documentation on Israel, or CIDI.

The men were wearing soccer shirts of the Feyenoord club of Rotterdam. The club’s arch-rival is Amsterdam’s Ajax team, which is widely associated with Jews.

The chant, whose use was first reported by the media in 2015, has proliferated in the Netherlands and Belgium in recent years. In some cases, fans chant it to taunt counterparts from rival teams.

But the chant has appeared in situations connected to neither Jews nor soccer, including a high school graduation party in 2016 near Amsterdam.

Separately, Hidde van Koningsveld, the head of the pro-Israel CiJo group, last week told the Dutch media he experiences an anti-Semitic incident at least once a week in the Hague, where he works, because he wears a kippah.

Polish far-right marches in protest at US pressure for Holocaust restitution

Thousands or activists gather at US embassy in Warsaw, in one of the largest anti-Jewish street demonstrations in recent times

Far right demonstrators protest against the US Senate's 447 Holocaust Restitution bill, in Warsaw on May 11, 2019. (Photo by Alik KEPLICZ / AFP)

Far right demonstrators protest against the US Senate’s 447 Holocaust Restitution bill, in Warsaw on May 11, 2019. (Photo by Alik KEPLICZ / AFP)

WARSAW, Poland — Thousands of Polish nationalists marched to the US Embassy in Warsaw Saturday, protesting that the US is putting pressure on Poland to compensate Jews whose families lost property during the Holocaust.

The protest took place amid a dramatic rise in anti-Semitic hate speech in public life in Poland and it appeared to be one of the largest anti-Jewish street demonstrations in recent times. It also comes as far-right groups are gaining in popularity, pressuring the conservative government to move further to the right.

Poland was a major victim of Nazi Germany during World War II and those protesting say it is not fair to ask Poland to compensate Jewish victims when Poland has never received adequate compensation from Germany.

“Why should we have to pay money today when nobody gives us anything?” said 22-year-old Kamil Wencwel. “Americans only think about Jewish and not Polish interests.”

Far right demonstrators protest against the US Senate’s 447 Holocaust Restitution bill, in Warsaw on May 11, 2019. (Alik KEPLICZ / AFP)

The protesters shouted “no to claims!” and “This is Poland, not Polin,” using the Hebrew word for Poland.

Rafal Pankowski, a sociologist who heads the anti-extremist group Never Again, called the march “probably the biggest openly anti-Jewish street demonstration in Europe in recent years.”

One couple wore matching T-shirts reading “death to the enemies of the fatherland,” while another man wore a shirt saying: “I will not apologize for Jedwabne” — a massacre of Jews by their Polish neighbors in 1941 under the German occupation.

Among those far-right politicians who led the march were Janusz Korwin-Mikke and Grzegorz Braun, who have joined forces in a far-right coalition standing in the elections to the European Parliament later this month. Stopping Jewish restitution claims has been one of their key priorities, along with fighting what they call pro-LGBT “propaganda.” The movement is polling well with young Polish men.

Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki echoed the feelings of the protesters at a campaign rally Saturday, saying that it is Poles who deserve compensation.

Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki of Poland at a joint news conference with Germany’s chancellor in Berlin, February 16, 2018. (Michele Tantussi/Getty Images/via JTA)

Poland was the heartland of European Jewish life before the Holocaust, with most of the 3.3 million Polish Jews murdered by occupying Nazi German forces. Christian Poles were also targeted by the Germans, killed in massacres and in concentration camps.

Many Poles to this day have a feeling that their suffering has not been adequately acknowledged by the world, while that of Jewish suffering in the Holocaust has, creating what has often been called a “competition of victimhood.”

Many of the properties of both Jews and non-Jews were destroyed during the war or were looted and later nationalized by the communist regime that followed.

The protests in Warsaw target US law S. 447, also known as the Justice for Uncompensated Survivors Today (or JUST) Act. It was signed into law by President Donald Trump last year and requires the State Department to report to Congress on the state of restitution of Jewish property stolen in the Holocaust in dozens of countries.

Protesters said paying compensation would ruin Poland’s economy.

Poland’s governing right-wing Law and Justice (PiS) party as well as the centrist and liberal opposition have downplayed the law, insisting that it will have no impact on Poland.

But in the run-up to elections to the European Parliament late this month, an informal alliance of several far-right and nationalist parties and groups joined forces with a farmers’ union to campaign against Jewish property restitution.

One of its leaders, Robert Bakiewicz from the far-right National-Radical Camp (ONR) called the 447 law “a threat to Poland and its security since the Jewish organizations are claiming $300 billion dollars”

Jewish organizations, particularly the World Jewish Restitution Organization, have been seeking compensation for Holocaust survivors and their families, consider compensation a matter of justice for a population that was subjected to genocide.

Poland is the only European Union country that hasn’t passed laws regulating the compensation of looted or national property, and the head of the WJRO, Gideon Taylor, noted Saturday that such property “continues to benefit the Polish economy.”

Far right demonstrators protest against the US Senate’s 447 Holocaust Restitution bill, in Warsaw on May 11, 2019. (Alik KEPLICZ / AFP)

At least two US Confederate flags were visible at Saturday’s protest, which began with a rally in front of the prime minister’s office before the protesters walked to the US Embassy. Men in Native American headdress held a banner with a message pointing to what they see as US double standards: ‘USA, Practice 447 at home. Return stolen lands to the descendants of native tribes.”

With pressure building on this issue, the US State Department’s new envoy on anti-Semitism, Elan Carr, was in Warsaw this past week, telling leaders and media that the US is only urging Poland to fulfill a non-binding commitment it made in 2009 to act on the issue. He also said the US recognizes that Poland was a victim of the war and is not dictating how Warsaw regulates compensation.

After Auschwitz, memory is barbaric: 8 things to know for May 2

Rather than unity, Holocaust Remembrance Day presents a politicized struggle over what lessons to take from the horrors of the past to combat a bleak future

President Reuven Rivlin lays a wreath in honor of Holocaust victims at Yad Vashem in Jerusalem on Holocaust Remembrance Day, May 2, 2019 (Kobi Gideon / GPO)

President Reuven Rivlin lays a wreath in honor of Holocaust victims at Yad Vashem in Jerusalem on Holocaust Remembrance Day, May 2, 2019 (Kobi Gideon / GPO)

1. Remembering what they did: Israelis stood Thursday morning to mark two minutes of silence in remembrance of the six million Jews killed in the Holocaust, one of the most moving and solemn moments on a day full of them.

  • The day is one in which TV channels and radio stations broadcast almost exclusively content related to the Holocaust and anti-Semitism. The only songs heard are sad ones, and stories of death, destruction and rebuilding from survivors and others fill every corner.
  • The memorials began with a military-tinged ceremony at Jerusalem’s Yad Vashem Wednesday night, with survivors lighting candles and political leaders raising alarms about anti-Semitism still rampant in Europe and elsewhere.
  • President Reuven Rivlin used his address to warn against breaking bread with those on the European far-right who refuse to acknowledge their role in the Holocaust, saying no realpolitik considerations could justify doing so
  • The comments are seen as an implicit rebuke of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
  • “Rivlin leveled hinted criticism at the burgeoning ties between the Netanyahu government and those on the far-right in Europe,” Yedioth Ahronoth reports.

2. Recognizing what they want to do: Netanyahu also pointed a finger at rising anti-Semitism, but his speech focused more on hate coming from the other side of the political spectrum, mentioning the New York Times cartoon and warning Iran that Jews won’t allow themselves to be slaughtered again.

  • “Netanyahu spoke not merely with his trademark assurance, but with ferocity,” ToI’s David Horovitz writes, crediting his electoral win for the prime minister’s swagger. “Netanyahu … believes he had to win because he is certain that he, and only he, can keep this country safe and thriving in the face of its enemies.”
  • In Israel Hayom, seen as close to Netanyahu, columnists echo the takeaway that Israel needs a strong army.
  • “There is no real reason to assume [the world] would take any significant action if, heaven forbid, the existence of the Jewish people in Israel or around the world was under threat,” Nadav Shragai writes, ticking off the genocides that have occurred since the Holocaust.
  • “This is a time of emergency, and anyone who does not understand the need for a strong Israel is playing into the hands of anti-Semites, if not anti-Semitic themselves,” Eldad Beck writes in another.

3. Anti-Semitism vs. anti-Semitism: Netanyahu’s and Rivlin’s speeches accentuated the unofficial theme of this year’s commemorations, which appears to be anti-Semitism on the right vs. anti-Semitism on the left. (The official theme of commemorations at Yad Vashem this year is the struggle of Jews to meet the needs of survival during the war years.)

  • On Twitter, right-wing Channel 20 commentator Shimon Riklin writes that nobody will talk about why the Holocaust happened in Germany, “where Jews were the most progressive.”
  • The comment is criticized as the latest one by a right-wing Israeli to blame Jews for helping the spread of anti-Semitism. (Israel Hayom’s Beck also points a finger at Jews trying to “weaken” the Jewish state.)
  • In Haaretz, former Meretz head Zehava Gal-on writes that there’s enough anti-Semitism to go around for everybody, but it’s not leftists who are forming ties with European far-right parties that are outgrowths of the Nazi movement.
  • “Blaming Jews for the anti-Semitism against them is nothing new, but in the past was the bailiwick of anti-Semitic Holocaust deniers. Today, it exists within the ruling party and among intellectuals … of the new Israeli right,” she writes, connecting the argument to comments praising Hitler and sundry by rabbis at a preeminent religious Zionist yeshiva in the settlement of Eli.

4. Fight over memory: Despite Netanyahu’s efforts to forge ties with Poland, Jerusalem and Warsaw remain at loggerheads over comments made by Israeli officials that Poles took offense to earlier this year.

  • That means that this year, for the first time in years, neither Poland nor Israel are sending high level delegations to March of the Living commemorations at the Auschwitz-Birkenau death camp.
  • Tens of thousands of others make the trip though, including US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman and survivor Ed Mosberg, who has become a well-known advocate for Holocaust commemoration and education.
  • At the March, Mosberg angrily denounces Israeli Minister Israel Katz for saying earlier this year that Poles “suckle anti-Semitism with their mother’s milk.”
  • “Unfortunately there is no medicine for stupidity,” he says, according to ToI’s Michael Bachner, reporting on the trip. “I’m talking about Israel Katz, that stupid idiot, if he could say that it shows his stupidity.
  • “I told Polish President Andrzej Duda not to come down to Israel unless he apologizes or is fired from the government,” he adds.
  • Other survivors at the March express fears that history is repeating itself.
  • “In Europe, in Canada, in the United States, anti-Semitism is back,”says Max Eisen. “It has taken on a life of its own, it’s a terrible thing.”

5. Their lies, Treblinka: Reporter Ronen Bergman, who won plaudits last year for confronting Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki over the country’s Holocaust law, writes in Yedioth that the Holocaust denial industry is still thriving in that country.

  • Bergman, who last year mentioned his mother’s experiences during the Holocaust at the hands of Poles, only to be told by Morawiecki that Poles did not commit any atrocities against the Jews, writes that Warsaw is an example of a trend in Eastern Europe not to deny the Holocaust, but to deny collaboration with the Nazis.
  • “In an attempt to create a history they can be proud of, Eastern European politicians are fanning the most primitive urges and writing a new one,” he writes. “Many in Poland believe that the Jews were linked to the Nazis at first, that many of the Nazi leaders, including Hitler, were Jews, and they helped destroy the Poles.”

6. They don’t know: It’s not only the Poles who might not know what happened.

  • A study released Thursday by the Claims Conference finds that 56 percent of Austrians did not know that 6 million Jews were murdered in the Holocaust, and 36% believed that 2 million Jews or fewer were killed.
  • “The results were deeply disturbing because it reflects really a distortion of historical events as time goes on,” Greg Schneider, executive vice president of the Conference of Jewish Material Claims Against Germany, tells USA Today, which calls the figures shocking.
  • In ToI, Robert Philpot writes about a scholar’s look at various conspiracy theories surrounding Hitler’s death, some of which are still believed today.
  • The scholar, Luke Daly-Groves, notes that rumors that Hitler had survived were given extra prominence because people pointed to investigations by US and British intelligence into the matter as proof that there was something to them.
  • But Daly-Groves says, “The reason they were investigating these stories in the 1940s and 1950s was not because they believed Hitler could have escaped — it was often more because they were concerned with who was spreading these rumors and why they were doing so.”

7. When artifacts are all we have left: Much of the burden of combating Holocaust denial has been borne by survivors who can testify as to what they went through, but with the number of survivors dwindling, that job will increasingly fall to objects.

  • The Associated Press reports that Yad Vashem is increasingly focusing on artifacts from the Holocaust, dedicating a new center to archive materials collected from survivors and others.
  • “Through its ‘Gathering the Fragments’ program, Yad Vashem has collected some 250,000 items from survivors and their families in recent years to be stored for posterity and displayed online in hopes of preserving the memory of the 6 million Jews killed by the Nazis, even after the last of the survivors has passed away,” the agency’s Aron Heller writes.
  • “By preserving these precious items … and revealing them to the public they will act as the voice of the victims and the survivors and serve as an everlasting memory,” Yad Vashem head Avner Shalev says.
  • Many of the items are letters, some written from the concentration and death camps. Haaretz writes about 12 letters put on display by the Holocaust memorial and museum, all of them from 1944, “ the year that the end of Nazi Germany could be seen on the horizon, but the destruction continued at full force.”
  • “Now, my dear, we take our leave of you. I do not know whether we will meet again in this life. Pray to the merciful God to have mercy on us, because this situation cannot be tolerated for long,” reads one letter sent by Bracha Igaz from the Bekescsaba Ghetto in Hungary to her husband Yaakov in Debrecen.
  • The paper notes that the letter was sent on the day the ghetto was wiped out, and the words were Igaz’s last.

8. If this is a memorial: Some in Israel are criticizing the way the country chooses to commemorate the Holocaust.

  • JTA’s Hen Mazzig asks why Middle Eastern Jews are ignored in remembrances, given pogroms by Nazi-backed mobs in Iraq and actual Nazis killing Jews in northern Europe.
  • “I hope that one day Mizrahi children in Israel and around the world will learn about our trauma and what happened to our community during the Holocaust. That they will find a place to deal with our tragic memory of our community and our history,” he writes. “Learning these stories will not diminish the memory of the Holocaust. It is only when Mizrahim are invited to fully be a part of the communal mourning, and only when we are heard, that all Jews will be able to truly mourn together.”
  • In Haaretz, Yossi Klein writes that the state’s attempts to nationalize mourning have been hollow and not served the memory of the victims or those who should be educated about what happened.
  • “Holocaust Remembrance Day doesn’t belong in our current reality. The dead are forgotten, the survivors abandoned. The lessons have not been learned. Racism is flourishing and hatred is winning. As if the Holocaust never happened,” he writes.
  • In an open letter to his grandparents, however, former minister Shai Piron defends the way Israel commemorates the day.
  • “We are not ignoring the horror but we emphasize hope. We did not forget the past but we are committed to the future,” he writes in Yedioth. “We did not tire of the story; the opposite, we dressed it in new clothes and turned it into a lifeline.”

‘Jews once again unsafe,’ Jewish Agency’s Herzog warns at March of the Living

Over 10,000 march at Auschwitz to commemorate Holocaust victims, including youth, survivors and political leaders from 41 countries

Jewish youth from all over the world visit the Auschwitz concentration camp in Poland a day before the March of the Living on May 1, 2019 (Yossi Zeliger/Flash90)

Jewish youth from all over the world visit the Auschwitz concentration camp in Poland a day before the March of the Living on May 1, 2019 (Yossi Zeliger/Flash90)

AUSCHWITZ-BIRKENAU, Poland — As over 10,000 people joined in the 2019 International March of the Living on Thursday afternoon in the former Nazi death camp at Auschwitz, Jewish Agency Chairman Isaac Herzog warned that “Jews are once again unsafe on the streets of Europe.”

The annual march coincides with Israel’s Holocaust Remembrance Day (Yom Hashoah) and marks the murder of 6 million Jews by Nazi Germany in the Holocaust.

“It is inconceivable that 74 years after that wretched war, Jews are once again unsafe on the streets of Europe. Jews cannot be murdered in Pittsburgh and San Diego or anywhere. Let us heed the warning and take to heart the lessons of the Holocaust. World leaders must unite with zero tolerance for hate crimes, of any kind,” he added.

Jewish Agency Chairman Isaac Herzog speaks during the main ceremony of the March of the Living, at the Auschwitz-Birkenau death camp at Oswiecim, Poland, May 2, 2019. (March of the Living feed screen capture)

A delegation led by senior officials from around the world joined the three-kilometer walk to the Birkenau death camp, where the central ceremony was held. Youth groups from 41 countries participated in the march, according to organizers.

At the ceremony, participants stood at attention when a commemoration siren sounded, a custom brought from Israel, where a nationwide siren on the morning of Yom Hashoah commemorates those who died in the Holocaust.

This year’s march in Poland comes amid rising anti-Semitism worldwide and organizers said the commemorations are meant to send a resounding rejection of Jew-hatred.

“We are here to say in a clear voice: ‘Never again.’ We march to remind the world of the horrors that occurred during the Holocaust and to lead a global movement to combat anti-Semitism in all its forms,” Shmuel Rosenman, the founder and co-chairman of March of the Living, said in a statement.

US ambassador to Israel David Friedman also spoke at the ceremony.

“There are no words. I have no words to capture the pain, the anger, the sadness, the horror that I feel now at this solemn site,” he said.

“Even if I had the words, they would be drowned out by the shrieks, the cries, the shouts, the agony of the victims in this death camp that have never been silenced, and that are amplified right now, right here, this afternoon.”

He promised that the United States would “give no quarter” to anti-Semitism “anywhere on this planet,” and called Israel “a force for good in the world and a powerful reminder that Jewish life, like all human life, can, will and must be defended from the tyrannical, hate-filled regimes that threaten us.”

Herzog’s speech related the experience of his father Chaim, a future president of Israel, who served in the war as an officer in the British army and was among the liberators of the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp.

“He crossed the River Rhine in one of the most challenging battles of the war, and reached the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp in April 1945,” Herzog said. “As a young British officer he walked towards the living skeletons and said to them in Yiddish: ‘I am a Jew, I am from Eretz Israel, and I came to rescue you.’ However, some of them thought that he was actually manipulating them, as Nazis did throughout the period. A few days later, on Friday evening, he led the prayers for those who survived the horror,” Herzog related.

No senior Israeli government officials took part in this year’s march, though former chief rabbi Israel Lau and Herzog joined it. Also attending were Friedman and Romanian Prime Minister Viorica Dancila, among others.

‘Auschwitz? What’s That?’

The growing need for comprehensive Holocaust education.

Dickinson College history Professor Karl Qualls, teaches a class to help students understand “how atrocities can happen very quickly.” Courtesy of Karl Qualls

Dickinson College history Professor Karl Qualls, teaches a class to help students understand “how atrocities can happen very quickly.” Courtesy of Karl Qualls

‘What I’m going to tell you, I don’t believe it myself.” These were the beginning words of Holocaust survivor David Tuck’s presentation last fall at Dickinson College. There was perhaps no statement more profound for Tuck to use as he began his story of survival. As I sat in the audience, I couldn’t help being transfixed by Tuck’s story, including his experience living in a ghetto and being transferred from one concentration camp to another.

Through it all, however, Tuck affirmed that he doesn’t live with hate. Rather, he has chosen to keep the memory of the Holocaust alive by traveling around the country to tell his story. I was also moved by the sheer number of people who came to hear Tuck, especially all of the students who were there. After all, it’s up to the younger generation to ensure that the horrors of the Holocaust are never forgotten.

David Tuck, a Holocaust survivor, presented to a group of Dickinson students about his experience. Courtesy of The Dickinsonian

A major reason for these disparities is the lack of comprehensive Holocaust education in U.S. schools. As can be seen by the data mentioned above, young people nowadays are receiving less critical information about the Holocaust at school. If these troubling statistics describe people who are no longer in school anymore, it is concerning to think about what the numbers might be for those who are. Sadly, this trend provides an opportunity for skeptical attitudes to flourish, thereby aiding those who seek to erase all memory of the Holocaust. We cannot always rely on Holocaust survivors to keep educating future generations, especially as their numbers dwindle over time. Of course, it’s vital for Holocaust survivors to keep sharing their stories for as long as they can, but at some point we’ll need to use alternative means of Holocaust education.

A pertinent example of such education at work is the course on the Holocaust taught at Dickinson College by Professor Karl Qualls. A history professor specializing in Eastern European history, Qualls initially developed the course in order to try to, in his words, “understand how something of that scale [the Holocaust] works.” Looking at an event like the Holocaust from a historian’s perspective, Qualls wants others to better understand “how atrocities can happen very quickly and people can be sucked into them both knowingly and unknowingly.” Further, with the reality that anti-Semitism remains a huge problem in the world today and the fact that non-Jewish schools’ curriculums are seemingly void of any comprehensive Holocaust studies, this course serves to combat the rise of conditions that could allow another Holocaust to occur. As Geoffrey Cole ’20, a history major at Dickinson, put it to me, “The biggest lesson we have learned from history is that events like the Holocaust can happen to anyone, at any time and in any situation,” making Qualls’ class all the more vital.

An important issue that arises when crafting such a curriculum, however, is finding a balance between, as Qualls explained, the “humanization of the Holocaust and a complicated understanding of how the Holocaust unfolded.” Many schools across the country only focus on individuals like Anne Frank or Adolf Hitler without bringing in broader narratives and information. A comprehensive Holocaust curriculum cannot, therefore, rely on just these stories. Professor Qualls put it simply to me that “individual stories are just that,” individual. On the other hand, we cannot go to the other extreme and only show graphic details because that generates sympathy alone. After all, Qualls told me, when we only utilize sympathy, rather than empathy, any intellectual analysis “will be very weak.”

Qualls’ insights on Holocaust education all lead back to the course he developed and teaches at Dickinson. Instead of having students write a historiography paper as per usual, Qualls decided last spring to charge students with creating a script for educational videos that would be shown to other students. In this way, the education provided in the Dickinson course could be made public and accessible to all. Importantly, then, as Qualls stated, the “work of the class itself can be educational beyond the classroom.” Although this is just one class at one American college, the effects are already showing. Two of Qualls’ former students are pursuing careers in education with a focus on genocide studies; one local teacher is now including supplemental material on the Holocaust in her class’ curriculum beyond what is traditionally ascribed in school textbooks. If the country’s Holocaust education is to improve, other schools need to take Professor Qualls’ lead. In his own words: “All of us have some part to play in the next tragedy. It’s all about choices.” When the stakes are this high, what choice will American schools make?

German band Rammstein blasted for concentration camp video

Jewish groups, government anti-Semitism official criticize as ‘tasteless’ hard rock band’s promotion video featuring members as Jewish inmates

German hard rock band Rammstein sparked protests from politicians, historians and Jewish groups Thursday with a video showing band members dressed as concentration camp prisoners with nooses around their necks.

Critics accused the Berlin-based group of a cynical publicity stunt playing with Nazi-era imagery to generate media hype and online clicks for their new single.

“With this new video, the band has crossed a line,” said Charlotte Knobloch, ex-president of the Central Council of Jews in Germany.

“The instrumentalization and trivialization of the Holocaust shown in the images are irresponsible,” she told Bild daily.

German Jewish community leader Charlotte Knobloch, seen in Jerusalem in 2009. (Wikimedia Commons)

“Rammstein is misusing the suffering and murder of millions for entertainment purposes in a frivolous and repulsive way.”

The industrial metal band founded in 1994 is known for their grinding guitar riffs, taboo-breaking antics and theatrical stage shows heavy on pyrotechnics.

Their songs have dealt with subjects from cannibalism to necrophilia, and the band name itself evokes the 1988 Ramstein air show disaster that killed 70 people and injured more than 1,000.

Frontman Till Lindemann, 56, asked in a 2006 interview whether the band would again dabble in Nazi themes, said: “No. Because I am fed up with allegations of being a right-wing band.”

However, in the new promotional clip, the band members are dressed in black-and-white striped concentration camp garb and seemingly awaiting their execution by hanging.

Germany’s special envoy on anti-Semitism Felix Klein. (Courtesy German Interior Ministry)

Lindemann is shown bleeding from a facial cut and guitarist Paul Landers, 54, wears a Star of David.

At the end of the 35-second clip, the song title “Deutschland” (Germany) appears in Gothic letters.

Bild quoted a lineup of politicians who voiced anger and disgust, with Jewish historian Michael Wolffsohn labeling it “a new form of desecration of the dead.”

Germany’s anti-Semitism commissioner Felix Klein called it “a tasteless exploitation of artistic freedom” that “represents the transgression of a red line.”

A year ago, German rappers Farid Bang and Kollegah sparked outrage with lyrics boasting that their bodies were “more defined than Auschwitz prisoners.” The scandal spelled the end of the German music industry’s sales-based Echo prize which had been awarded to the duo and helped spark large rallies calling for solidarity with Jews in Berlin and other cities.


FBI to return Nazi-stolen art to Jewish collector’s heirs

Salomon Koninck’s 1639 ‘A Scholar Sharpening His Quill’ was stolen from art collector Adolphe Schloss and sent to Hitler’s headquarters in Munich

Salomon Koninck's 1639 "A Scholar Sharpening His Quill, (Photo US District Attorneys Office)

Salomon Koninck’s 1639 “A Scholar Sharpening His Quill, (Photo US District Attorneys Office)

NEW YORK — A painting stolen from the family of art collector Adolphe Schloss by Germans during the World War II occupation of France will be returned to his descendants in New York, the French consulate said in a statement Tuesday.

The painting, Dutch artist Salomon Koninck’s 1639 “A Scholar Sharpening His Quill,” was part of an important collection of Flemish and Dutch works owned by Schloss, a Jewish man who lived in Paris.

The identities of Schloss’s descendants were not immediately available.

A collection of some 333 paintings owned by Schloss was originally stored in southern France during World War II before the Nazis found and seized it.

Some of those works, including the Koninck painting, were then sent to Hitler’s headquarters in Munich.

The painting resurfaced in November 2017 when a Chilean art dealer tried to sell it through a New York auction house, the Manhattan federal prosecutor said last year upon launching a formal procedure to return it to Schloss’s heirs.

The seller explained to authorities that his father had purchased the piece in 1952 from Walter Andreas Hofer, the man who was in charge of buying art for Nazi leader Hermann Goring, and a major player on the stolen goods market.

Millions of items owned by Jews and in art galleries were confiscated under the Nazi-aligned French Vichy government’s anti-Semitic laws during the German occupation.

With several major auction houses located in New York, Manhattan prosecutors regularly submit requests to return goods stolen during World War II.

Yad Vashem to break ground on new artifacts center on Holocaust Remembrance Day

Enlarged Shoah Heritage Campus to include millions of documents and artifacts, from a toddler’s shoe marked with the day she died to a portrait of a Nazi painted on a Torah scroll

During a behind-the-scenes tour of Yad Vashem’s new curatorial center this winter, the Israel Holocaust museum’s Sarah Shor held up a petite child’s shoe and pointed to a pair of knitted gloves. Shor told the group of Jewish journalists seated in the glass-walled room that they had once belonged to two-year-old Hinda Cohen, who was born to Tzipporah and Dov Cohen in the Kovno Ghetto in Lithuania on January 18, 1942.

The table was littered with dozens of artifacts, from a portrait of a Nazi soldier painted on a Torah scroll to the striped pajamas of a camp intern. Every item had a story behind it, attesting to the life of the former owner. But there are few things more chilling than seeing the physical remnants of a life cut too short: blue gloves with a purple design worked in by the hands of a loving mother, and well-polished minuscule shoes.

Father Dov etched the date into the shoe, found under her bed with scant few other items and vowed to keep it until his death, a promise he kept.

Yad Vashem’s Sarah Shor shows a group of journalists the ‘canvas’ for the portrait of a Nazi soldier — a Torah scroll, at Yad Vashem in Jerusalem, December 18, 2018. (Amanda Borschel-Dan/Times of Israel)

Hinda and the children were taken to Auschwitz, where they were immediately murdered.

Now, on Holocaust and Heroism Remembrance Day, the day commemorating the loss of six million Jews in the Holocaust, Israel’s Yad Vashem will break ground on a new state-of-the-art subterranean center to house and conserve millions of artifacts such as these. The more than 210 million documents, 500,000 photographs, 131,000 survivor testimonies, 32,400 artifacts and 11,500 works of art in Yad Vashem’s collections to date bear witness to the lives of those lost to the Nazis’ genocide, not only their deaths.

“The German Nazis were determined not only to annihilate the Jewish people, but also to obliterate their identity, memory, culture and heritage,” said Yad Vashem Chairman Avner Shalev in a press release.

“For many, all that remains are a treasured work of art, a personal artifact that survived with them, a photograph kept close to their person, a diary, or a note. By preserving these precious items – that are of great importance not only to the Jewish people, but also to humanity as a whole – and revealing them to the public, they will act as the voice of the victims and the survivors, and serve as an everlasting memory.”

A shoe and gloves belonging to two-year-old Hinda Cohen, who was killed at Auschwitz on March 27, 1944. Her father Dov etched the date on the sole upon discovering his daughter was taken during a ‘Children’s Aktion.’ (Amanda Borschel-Dan/Times of Israel)

Yad Vashem, the World Holocaust Remembrance Center, was founded in 1953 and immediately began gathering such artifacts. Today, its storerooms are overflowing and conservationist Shor told the journalists that her team does not have the resources to properly treat items on site.

This overflow is in part due to a wildly successful eight-year campaign, “Gathering the Fragments,” which urges the public to deposit Holocaust-related artifacts with the museum. The granddaughter of Tzipporah and Dov harkened the call and brought the etched shoe and pair of gloves to the museum as part of this campaign.

After a groundbreaking ceremony on Yom HaShoa, which this year falls on the evening of May 1 until sundown May 2, a new primarily underground structure will be built. According to a Yad Vashem press release, it will cover an area of 5,880 square meters and “allow for optimal control and supervision of the conservation climate required for preservation of the artifacts.”

A portrait of a Nazi soldier painted on a Torah scroll, at Yad Vashem in Jerusalem, December 18, 2018. (Amanda Borschel-Dan/Times of Israel)

Other benefits of the planned center include the ability to “streamline the process of receiving, preserving and cataloguing items collected by Yad Vashem, with the express goal of making them accessible to the public.” In addition to vast, climate-controlled storage spaces, the center will include hi-tech preservation laboratories, which will apparently be accessible in some way to visitors.

According to a Yad Vashem spokesman, there are other upgrades planned for the Mount of Remembrance, including a renovation of its auditorium and a new gallery for families and children.

The campus-wide construction and facelift is meant to be completed by the summer of 2021. According to Yad Vashem, funding has been secured already for much of the project. The institute is confident it will find the rest of the needed money.

“The Holocaust is a very particular story with a deep universal meaning,” remarked Shalev to the group of journalists this winter.

There are few symbols more universal than the little shoe that once belonged to Hinda Cohen.